ANSWER TO INDO-PAK PROBLEM LIES IN TRADE: KAMAL NATH
JOINT STUDY GROUP MEETING ON 25 JANUARY
Date : 11 Jan 2005
Location : New Delhi
Addressing a joint trade delegation from Pakistan comprising Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi Chambers of Commerce and Industry along with the PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PHDCCI), who called on him here, Shri Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce & Industry, said that the key to solving Indo-Pak issues lay in increasing trade between the two countries. The biggest challenge for both countries was to generate employment opportunities for which economic activity needed to be given a boost, he said. Shri Kamal Nath indicated that the meeting of the Indo-Pak Joint Study Group was slated for January 25, 2005 and urged members of trade and industry from both sides to come forward to put forth their views during the deliberations.
Responding to the request by PHDCCI for opening land route for trade between the two countries, the Minister said that whereas India was committed to improving trade relations with its neighbours, the Pakistan business community should also force its government to open land route. "We are willing to do so but Pakistan should also equally respond", Shri Kamal Nath said, adding that there was a lot of potential for increasing trade between India and Pakistan and the business community had to push for greater cooperation. Stressing the importance of regional cooperation, he said that both India and Pakistan would lose tremendously if they did not participate in such blocs and even in the WTO, the two countries should join hands in the context of their concerns.
Presenting a copy of the Joint Declaration signed between PHDCCI and the three Pakistan Chambers for identifying factors impeding growth of trade and economic cooperation, Mr. Sohail Lashari, Senior Vice President, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that business had decided to form pressure groups to force governments on both sides to give clear cut policy decisions for increasing trade. Mr. Ravi Wig, Immediate Past President, PHDCCI, said that there was huge market that remained unexplored due to the border tensions. With borders thrown open and SAFTA in place, India and Pakistan would benefit the most. There was also a need to invest in people by improving education and health services in the region, he said.